3773 Crenshaw Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016
323-292-5852 (Phone) | 323-292-5851 (Fax)

Dance Company

LWDT Hosts Studio Concert to Showcase New Works April 26 & 27

Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) will host a Studio Concert this month to showcase new works in progress and to cultivate audiences with a love for contemporary dance. LWDT will present choreography by Lula Washington, Stefan Wenta, Tamica Washington-Miller, Rennie Harris, Christopher Huggins, Bernard Brown, Chester Whitmore, and others.

The performances are set for Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 pm; and Sunday, April 28 at 3 pm at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre Studio, 3773 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016. Choreographer Lula Washington will preview an untitled work-in-progress performed to music by Marcus L. Miller and his Freedom Jazz Movement quartet. Alto sax player Bobby Bryant will be featured in the performance. Lula and Marcus have collaborated many times on works that combine jazz and dance with exhilarating theatricality, and powerful thematic ideas.

Guest choreographer and master ballet teacher, Stefan Wenta, will re-stage his 1998 duet, “Mater Dolorosa” set to the classical music of Polish composer Henryk Górecki. This work follows the relationship of a mother and son as they grow and mature. The mother ages into the child and the child matures into the overseeing parent. LWDT dancer Bernard Brown is choreographing a new work to the sounds of Jon Deshler on trumpet and Doug McBeath on upright base. They will play tunes from composers Hampton Halls, Wayne Shorter and Billy Strayhorn.

The dance and music will be accompanied by projections of classic Jazz photography by Deshler to create a multimedia experience incorporating photographic art with the music and dance. LWDT Associate Director Tamica Washington-Miller will also showcase a new work in progress and she will present excerpts from her popular work, “Beautiful Venus and Serena”. The cast will include members of LWDT’s newly formed Apprentice Ensemble. “The idea is to give up and coming young dancers the chance to do roles that would normally be done by members of the LWDT professional company,” explained Tamica, who works closely with the apprentices. “We are giving them valuable performance experience that will hopefully get them ready to dance with the Company some day.”

The apprentice dancers will also showcase excerpts from Rennie Harris’s Reign. LWDT plans to host Studio Concerts periodically through the year featuring work by the Company and its dancers, and also by other artists.

Seating is limited.

Tickets: $20 for General Audiences and $15 for students, seniors and children.

Tickets can be purchased at the LWDT studio.  For more information contact LWDT at (323) 292-5852 or via email school.lwdt@gmail.com.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre Kicks Off 2014 With Performances in Santa Barbara, North Carolina, San Jose

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre begins 2014 with performances in Santa Barbara, North Carolina and San Jose.

The company presents its Reflections In Black educational concert at the Arlington Theater at Santa Barbara City College Jan. 22. The Company will perform for more than 2,000 school children via the Children’s Creative Project.

This will be followed by master classes and a performance at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina Feb 7.

LWDT comes home and mounts a Black History Month concert in the LWDT Studio on Saturday, Feb. 22 with some of its Youth Dancers recreating Lula Washington’s “Little Rock Nine”.

For the first time, LWDT will dance at the Mexican American Heritage Plaza in San Jose Feb 28 in a concert sponsored by the San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild. Members of the guild saw LWDT’s concert at the Gallo Center in Spring 2013 and decided to bring the company to San Jose for a reprisal of the same performance.

Each performance will contain works tied to African-American history, one of which is Donald McKayle’s “I’ve Known Rivers” which is depicted in the photo above.

Photo: Haniyyah Muhammad in “I’ve Known Rivers”
–Choreography: Donald McKayle
–Photo by: Jack Hatin

Lula Washington Dance Theatre in concert with Complexions

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre will perform at the John Anson Ford Amphiteater in a shared concert with the Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Saturday, Aug. 10 at 8 pm.

Complexions was created by two former Alvin Ailey dancers Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson.

Dwight Rhoden, founder of Complexions.

Desmond Richardson, co-founder of Complexions.

Tickets are on sale now at the Ford, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd, East, Hollywood, CA 90068. The Box Office number is: 323-461-3673. You may also Email boxoffice@arts.lacounty.gov

The concert is part of the Ford’s new Signature Series, founded by Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky.

Proceeds from the concert will help fund a renovation of the Ford Theater and its stages.

Choreographer George Faison Teaches at LWDT

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre frequently hosts master dance classes with legendary figures in dance.

A good example of that is the visit in August 2012 by famed choreographer George Faison. George choreographed “The Wiz” on Broadway and the musical “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope.” He created the highly popular work “Suite Otis” which is performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

George was in town and he said “yes” when LWDT instructor Mesiyah McGinns asked Faison to come by the LWDT studio and say “hello” to students, he agreed.

His “hello” turned into an hour long question and answer session with students followed by an impromptu dance class that got all the students moving.

The experience was uplifting for everybody, from the professional dance company members, to the youngest student. George was generous and gracious, and showed his exceptional brilliance in dance.

Documentary Premiere: Movement With A Meaning

“Movement With A Meaning”, producer Jim Crum’s documentary film about the Lula Washington Dance Theatre, will have its world premiere at the 15th annual “Dances With Films Festival” on Friday June 1, at 2:45 pm at the Chinese 6 Theaters in Hollywood.

Festival producers described the documentary as: ”A unique, behind the scenes look at Los Angeles’ Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) – the leading African American dance company west of the Mississippi – and their staging of a ballet piece based on the Paul Laurence Dunbar poem “We Wear the Mask,” a stinging indictment of the Stepin Fetchit roles African Americans were forced to play in order to “get by.” “Known worldwide through their international performances, everything Lula Washington and her company stands for comes together in their production of “We Wore the Mask.”

Jim Crum, an award-winning documentary film producer, followed Lula Washington for six months as she rehearsed “We Wore The Mask”, for the dance company’s 30th anniversary season. Crum, who had just retired from CBS, undertook the project as a labor of love after seeing the dance company in concert and being deeply moved.

Film festival producers selected “Movement With A Meaning” from almost 1,500 submissions. The Chinese theater is located on the 3rd floor of the Hollywood and Highland Complex, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood CA 90028. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the theater or online at the Dances With Film website: www.danceswithfilms.com/slate_movementwmeaning.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre will next perform “We Wore The Mask” for Dance St. Louis’s Spring To Dance Festival on Friday, May 24 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. It will also be performed on Saturday, May 25 at the Edison Theater in Saint Louis as part of the Black Dance USA Festival.

China Loves Lula!

Lula Washington Dance Theatre’s men dance with Chinese choreographer


More than 2,400 Chinese students packed the Rome Amphitheatre at Sias International University in Central China’s Xinzheng City two nights in a row to watch the Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) in concert. Students filled all the seats and then sat on the ground in front of the outdoor stage to watch.

Following both concerts students cheered and yelled out “We Love You Lula!” and scrambled to take photos with Lula and her dancers. “Amazing!” said Debra Levine, a dance critic and blogger who is travelling in China with LWDT. “Lula’s company is amazing!” 

Dr. Shawn Chen, chairman of the Board for Sias, the only privately owned university in China, reported that students, faculty, Chinese media and high ranking government officials expressed great joy and satisfaction with the performances. They were particularly pleased, he said, because they saw African-American dancers performing traditional Chinese dance — which showed the interaction between American and Chinese dancers.

The two evening concerts were part of a week-long residency with Sias where Lula Washington conducted master dance classes; choreographed a dance for Sias Students to perform in their Homecoming ceremonies; and performed at Sias’s sister campus, the City University of Zhenzghou.  Lula and her dancers took part in the graduation ceremonies; a homecoming parade; and joined graduates in taking a graduation class photo.

At the Homecoming events LWDT and her company performed alongside Sias students doing traditional Chinese dances that they learned while in China.  Sias University is located in the same region as the Temple of the Shaolin Monks, who are famous for their martial arts athleticism. The Monks performed on the Homecoming program at the City University of Zhengzhou immediately following Lula Washington Dance Theatre, delivering the audience a double dose of spectacular movement. 

As part of the visit, Lula and dancers sang songs at a Karaoke party; taught hip hop and line dancing to students; and ate true Chinese foods with local dignitaries at banquets held in recognition of the dancers and the tour.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre’s tour to Central China may be the first of its type in history by an American modern dance company because it reaches such remote locations, said Keith Lommel from the US Embassy in Beijing. Lommel, who speaks fluent Mandarin, accompanied the dancers at the first third of the tour. He said he had never seen anything like the response to the dance company and he had also never seen Americans as willing to interact with the Chinese in the way that LWDT did.

 The tour takes the dance company to 12 cities in remote areas far from the big cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

The response to LWDT and its dancers has been the same from the beginning of the trip, starting with performances at the 2011 International Horticulture Exhibition in the city of Xi’an, home of the Terra Cota Warriors. There, crowds also sat in rapt attention as the company performed. Lula’s “Global Village” drew praise in Chinese newspapers. “Reign” by Rennie Harris wowed crowds in Xi’an and at Sias; as Did Donald McKayle’s “Angelitos Negros”.

Other crowd favorites were “Love Is…” by Christopher Huggins; “Together” by Tamica Washington-Miller; and Lula Washington’s “The Healers”, “We Wore The Mask”, and “Spontaneous Combustion”. The dance company is rotating a variety of programs as it moves from city to city.

As part of the tour, the dance company is visiting Chinese historical and cultural sites. Dancers visited the Terra Cota Warriots excavation site and museum; they climbed the Great Wall of China; toured the Forbidden City and toured the national Museum in Xi’an City. Along the way, they learned a great deal about 5,000 years of Chinese history and culture.

The idea of the tour is to go beyond performances but to engage in a true cultural exchange between the dancers and the local people. So far, the tour appears to be meeting its goals.

Lula Washington Dances at Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference

Lula Washington Dance Theatre's Tamica Washington-Miller dances at Maria Shriver's Women's Conference in Long Beach

Lula Washington Dance Theatre opened the Night at the Village program at Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference in Long Beach Oct. 25, with a new dance work featuring 15 women dancers and 15 women drummers. The performance was in front of thousands of women participating in Ms. Shriver’s final Women’s Conference as First Lady of California. The evening festivities included appearances by Jane Fonda and Jessica Simpson. In photograph above, Tamica Washington-Miller lets loose at the performance.

Lula Washington Dances at Women’s Conference

Maria Shriver and Lula Washington

The first lady of California, Maria Shriver, has invited Lula Washington to perform a special dance number as part of the 2010 Women’s Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 25.  Lula choreographed a special dance number featuring 15 female dancers of varying ages and dance backgrounds. 

The new dance, called “Celebration of Women,” will feature dynamic sounds from Shine, a group of female African drummers who often play in Leimert Park Village on weekends.  It is a combination of Afro-centric and modern movements which create a joyous and uplifting celebration of sisterhood. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 26, Lula will be part of the Minerva program at the Women’s Conference, during which Oprah Winfrey is to receive the Minerva Award.  The Minerva is given annually to acknowledge extraordinary women who positively impact the lives of families and children in California. 

In 2004, Lula Washington received the first Minerva Award.  She was honored for the impact her dance school and performing group have had on children in South Los Angeles. 

Lula Washington Dance Theatre, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, has brought high quality dance training to thousands of inner-city students.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre Tours Russia

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre is scheduled to take a six-week performing tour to 22 cities in Russia Nov. 9 to Dec. 15, 2010. It will be LWDT’s first trip to Russia and a highlight of the dance company’s 30th Anniversary Year. Lula Washington’s “We Wore The Mask” (see the photo above) will be a key part of the tour repertory.

Lula Washington will premiere a new work for the tour set to music by the great Russian composer, Tchaikovsky. Concerts are scheduled in the following cities: Sochi; Essentuki; Stavropol; Krasnodar; Rostov na Donu; Volgograd; Voroneg; Saratov; Kazan; Nijniy Novgorod; Ufa; Perm; Chelyabinsk; Orenburg; Samara; Yoshkar Ola; Sankt-Petersburg; Sakhalin; Nakhodka; Vladivostok; Habarovsk; and Blagoveshensk.

LWDT 30th Celebrated at Grand Performances

About 1,500 fans enjoyed a free outdoor performance by LWDT at Grand Performances on Friday, July 30, 8 pm, in Downtown L.A.

Lula and her dancers performed on the watercourt stage at California Plaza, 300-350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 90071 before an audience that filled every seat available.

One of L.A.’s treasures, Lula Washington has been celebrating her dance company’s 30th anniversary with a series of local, national an international concerts. The Company heads next to concerts in upstate New York; Pittsburgh; and Kentucky before a 23-city tour in Russia.

The Grand Performances concert celebrated the Lula Washington Dance Theatre’s 30 years of influential community service with an evening of new and revival works. Premieres included Tamica Washington Miller’s Ode to Love in the Springtime, Spider and the Bee, and thrilling new choreography by Lula and Jordi Caballero (Dancing with the Stars) that delved into African, Flamenco and Modern dance styles. Viewers experienced the new work that Rennie Harris has set on the company, Reign – examining the experience of love and praise in church. The evening was tied together with Double Dutch, live musicians and drums galore. Actor Roger Guenveur-Smith added spoken word to the festivities and Marcus L. Miller’s Freedom Jazz Movement band thrilled viewers with its world jazz sounds.